The Sciences

Philippines watching Taal, Bulusan and Mayon rumble

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiMay 16, 2011 5:19 AM

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Sorry about the scarcity lately - it was graduation weekend here at Denison, so that always keeps me more than busy. However, now that graduation is done, summer is officially here for me (and you can really tell from the 49F and rainy weather outside - or the snow Eruptions reader Diane has been getting in California) ... and boy, it is a busy summer for me (more on that later in the summer).

I thought I'd start off this week with some news on activity in the Philippines. 

PHIVOLCS might have their hands full in the near future. They have been watching the Taal caldera closely as it shows signs that it could be headed for an eruption. The latest update from PHIVOLCS says that seismicity has continued unabated at the caldera and the lake water from the crater lake at Volcano Island continues to get warmer. All of this means that Taal is likely seeing magma rising under the caldera and the Alert Status currently sits at Level 2 as many people are left waiting and wondering what Taal might do.

However, over the last few days, a couple other Philippine volcanoes have also gotten people's attention again. Bulusan has experienced another set of phreatic (steam-driven) explosions (video) and Mayon has seen an uptick in the number of earthquakes and rockfalls felt at that volcano. Now, these events don't mean a large eruption is imminent at either volcano, but they do suggest activity in the magmatic systems of both (not unsurprising). At Bulusan, after the Friday explosions, only 4 earthquakes were felt, but the latest update from PHIVOLCS this morning says that over 80 earthquakes were felt in 7 hours Monday (5/16) morning - but the Alert Status remains at Level 1. However, the explosions over the last week has deposited a few millimeters of ash in villages around the volcano. (I am a little irked that PHIVOLCS had to come out and tell people that the low level of seismicity in the Philippines - a tectonically active area - was in fact not caused by a planetary alignment.)

Mayon hasn't seen any type of explosions during its recent revival of activity, but vigorous steam plumes, a glow at night from the summit and these small earthquakes/rockfalls all remind is that the volcano still has magma relatively close to the surface. Mayon, too, remains at Level 1 alert.

Top left: An undated image of Bulusan in the Philippines.

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